The Need-To-Know Truth About Marketing For Coaches & Teachers

Of course you want to help people move better, and build a thriving business doing it.  

You wouldn't be here otherwise.

But at times it feels like you're just getting by.  You're never quite sure where your next client is going to come from, and the stress makes it difficult to do your best work.

Each month there's rent or a mortgage, loans, bills, maybe even a family to take care of, or a studio lease.  And that's just the basics, not even taking into account the fact that--I don't know--maybe you want to grow?  To keep learning and honing in on your craft?

Month after month you tell yourself that something has to change.  But you're not sure what.

You want to reach your ideal clients, but conventional marketing leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.  You got into this because you want to coach people, not spend time marketing or selling, right?

Well, if you're a movement coach, teacher, or practitioner, here's the need-to-know truth about marketing...

The Problem Of Dis-Integration

Imagine you had a client who said they wanted to move better but refused to do anything other than sit on the couch all day.  You'd say they're missing a key piece of the puzzle, right?

Or say there's a client who wants to lose weight and get into shape for a Tough Mudder, but they won't address what they're eating.  Something's gotta give.

There's a similar issue when you say you want to have a business helping people get better, but you don't want to do any marketing.  It's a problem of dis-integration.  

See, many of us hear the word marketing and immediately say:

"I Don't Like Marketing Or Sales.  I'm Not One Of Those People."

Really?  You mean those people with a thriving business doing what they love?  The people who can afford to go to those intensive trainings, workshops, and retreats that look so incredible?  The ones reaching thousands of people they can help? 

You're not one of those?


Too many thoughtful, skilled coaches and teachers look at sales and marketing with disgust.  

Because so much of conventional sales and marketing is disgusting.

But you cannot have a business and you cannot make your impact without it.

Here's the truth: if marketing or sales feels icky to you, you're doing it wrong.

But it's not your fault.

We're bombarded by endless noise every hour of the day.  We see hundreds and hundreds of marketing messages and advertisements, all clamoring for our attention.  It's easy to look at that and get turned off of the whole idea of marketing.

It's because most of us have a skewed understanding of what marketing is.

Whereas conventional marketing is about aggressively pitching a product or service, smart coaches know that good marketing is about sharing a vision of the world, conveying an idea of how things could be, and giving people a path to turn that vision into reality.

It's storytelling.

You know, that thing humans have been doing as long as we've been humans.

Marketing isn't something you do to somebody.  It's something you do for somebody.

Let me explain with an example.  

Think of something you own, or a workshop you attended that really made your life better.  

Something that helped you live more of the live you want to live.

Got it in mind?

Guess what: you wouldn't have that--let alone know it existed--without marketing.

See, good marketing is much more than Facebook ads, or flyers at the store.

Marketing is a bridge between good ideas, experiences, or things and the people who want them.

It's how a business has a conversation with a person it could help.

It's how you as a coach or teacher can develop relationships with people whose lives you can change.  People who WANT to change their lives but don't know about you yet.

That's what marketing is when it's good.  When it's bad, it's really bad.

Here Are A Few Strategies That Never Work

1. "Build It, And They Will Come."  

So many coaches and teachers think that their work will speak for itself.  It might if you're doing something truly remarkable, but consider this...  

You know how busy you are?  Well, the rest of the world is just as busy.  The unfortunate truth is: good work doesn't always speak for itself.  You have to actively share that work with confidence, empathy, and consideration.

2. Spamming People With Aggressive Pitches.  

Think back to the last date you went on.  You probably grabbed a coffee, maybe went to dinner, and gradually built up a relationship from there.  

It didn't start with a marriage proposal, did it?  It goes without saying that would be weird.  When we lead with a sales pitch, it's no different.  It comes off as desperate and rude.  

3. Talking About What You Do.

This one is tricky.  I said before that we need to get more comfortable marketing ourselves.  

But the catch is: marketing isn't about what you do.  It's about what you help other people do.  If you're spending all of your time talking about how many niche certifications and qualifications you have, you're wasting your time (and your potential client's).

4. Marketing To Everybody.  

We're big-hearted people, we coaches.  When asked who we serve, we so often say: anybody with a body!  I help everyone who wants to get better!

But you don't.  And that's a good thing.  And somewhere inside you know that.

If you help everybody, then you help nobody.  Companies that try to appeal to everybody end up watering themselves down, pandering to the lowest common denominator.  As a result, they delight nobody.  

Narrow the target.  Hone in to the people who are an absolute "Hell yes" in your book.  And don't be afraid to exclude others.  It's not a matter of turning them away.  It's a matter of saying to them--and yourself--that you aren't the best person to serve them.  Somebody else is, and that's ok.

Know the people you want to serve.  And know those you don't.  

Give yourself boundaries to play in.  Constraints are a gift in disguise.

Instead of making the same mistakes as amateur marketers, you can use your natural gifts as a coach to connect with the right people using the right message.  

Here Are Three Strategies To Help You Market Your Work With More Honesty And Integrity

1. Become A Mind Reader.  

Your marketing, sales, and ongoing client relationships are all built around effective communication.  Are you speaking the same language as they are?

When you're a coach or practitioner, it's easy to fall prey to the curse of knowledge and assume the rest of the world knows as much as you and thinks the way you do.  There are two problems here:  

  1. You don't value what you know ("everybody knows this already"), or...  
  2. You lose potential clients by talking over their heads.  

You solve the first problem by reflecting on how far you've come and recognizing the amount of work you've put into this.

You solve the second by actively engaging with your clients.  Interview them and ask what their biggest problem was before working together.  Ask them what's different now.  Listen to how they talk about their issues, and take note of their specific language (this strategy alone doubled the revenue of my second course launch).

If you want to make a bigger impact as a coach, you have to meet people where they are.  

Intentional language is how we build that bridge.

2. Remember Who The Hero Of The Story Is.

A marketing story is not the story of what you do.  It's the story of what you help others do.

A marketing story is not about how great you are.  It's about how great you help others become.

You are not the hero of the story.  You're the guide.  You've gone through the transformation yourself, or you know the way, and you can help lead others along the path.  

What this means is you need a bit of humility.  I know how hard you've worked.  I know how much you've put into it.  But if we're all clamoring to be the hero, who's going to actually help people?

3. Say What You See.

You know that thing you've been thinking about, the one that pops up every other moment of the day?

Nobody else has been thinking about that like you have.

You have an understanding of it that can change other people's understanding. But you need to meet them where they are. If you don't bridge the gap between what you know and what they know, how can they ever get that full insight?

Time invested in a thought or idea is your greatest gift and greatest handicap.

To overcome this hurdle, share your perception of things.  Imagine you're looking down from the mountain top and are shouting out the way to people at the bottom.

Is there a problem your clients have that they don't realize?  Bring their attention to it.

Is there a common mistake you see people making?  Write a post about it.

When you have a depth of understanding that your clients don't, you owe it to them to share the insights of your view.

Does This Really Work?

If you're reading this, your coaching or training business isn't where you know it could be.

But the truth is: any coach or trainer can have a thriving business AND a marketing strategy they'd be proud to show their mom.

It takes honesty and self-reflection, empathy and a client-centered approach.  

After all we're in the business of helping people.